Record of Marx's Speech on the Condition of the Coalminers in the Coalfields of Saxony.

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At the General Council meeting of February 23, 1869 Marx set forth in detail the “Report on the Miners’ Guilds in the Coalfields of Saxony” written by Engels in German. A record of Marx’s speech has been preserved in the Minute Book of the General Council. The newspaper report of it published in this volume is more complete and precise.

From the Newspaper Report of the General Council Meeting of February 23, 1869[edit source]

The German secretary [Marx] read a report on the condition of the coalminers in the kingdom of Saxony. Their wages vary from 6s. to 10s. 3d. a week, for twelve hours labour a day; boys’ from 4s. to 5s. a week. Each colliery has a benefit club, to which the men are compelled to contribute, but they have no voice in the administration of the funds; the funds are the lawful property of the coal owners, and the benefits are, without exception, dispensed by the head-managers of the collieries. Sick, relief and superannuation allowances rise in proportion to length of service, but any one leaving his employment, no matter for what reason, loses all claims upon the fund. Thus a man may have contributed to the fund for 30 or 40 years without receiving a farthing in his old age.

An agitation among the miners for better terms has led to the publication of a draft of rules for a united club for all the Saxon ,collieries. The draft is the work of a committee of colliers presided over by Mr. J. G. Dinter. The chief distinctive features are —

1. All clubs to be consolidated into one.

2. Members not to lose their rights so long as they reside anywhere in Germany and continue to pay their contributions.

3. A general meeting of all adult members to be the supreme authority to elect a general and an executive committee.

4. Masters’ contributions to be equal to one-half of those of the men.

This draft, which does not represent the views of the most intelligent colliers, but rather of a section, which would fain to carry out reforms with the consent of the masters, carries on its face the stamp of impracticability. It is really too naive to suppose that the masters, who now have complete control of the clubs, will consent to hand the whole management over to a democratic general meeting of working men, and yet continue paying their contributions. To open the eyes of such of the colliers as may still believe in the possibility of reforming the clubs upon the basis of joint contributions of masters and men, the indignant refusal on the part of the masters will be the best means.

International Workingmen’s Association 1869

The agenda of the Basle Congress of the International was approved by the General Council on June 22, 1869. As far back as February 16, the Council instructed the corresponding secretaries to write to all the Continental sections and ask them which additional subjects they, would like to be brought before the congress apart from the three questions already put on the agenda by decision of the previous congress, namely Land, Credit arid Education. As a result, two more items were included in the final text of the agenda: “The right to inheritance” introduced by the Geneva Alliance of Socialist Democracy and “The influence of trades unions upon the emancipation of the working class” (introduced by the Paris bronze-workers). The agenda of the Basle Congress was discussed in the General Council of June 29 and July 6, 13 and 20, 1869. It was published by the General Council as a leaflet, Fourth Annual Congress of the International Working Men’s Association, London, 1869, and was also printed in a number of English newspapers and in French in L'Égalité, July 3, 1869.

Resolution of the General Council On the Programme of the Basle Congress[edit source]

Upon the report of the Standing Committee the following was agreed to as the programme of the next Congress:

1. The question of landed property;

2. The right to inheritance;

3. To what extent can credit be immediately utilised by the working class;

4. The question of general education;

5. The influence of trades unions upon the emancipation of the working class.

It was further agreed that the order of proceedings be as follows:

1. Verification of Credentials;

2. Election of Congress officers;

3. Report of the General Council and reports of branches and sections;

4. Discussion of the questions on the programme;

5. Appointment of the seat of the General Council for the ensuing year;

6. Election of the members of the General Council;

7. Appointment of time and place of meeting of the next Congress.

It was further agreed that a notice be appended to the programme stating that the statistical inquiry is still proceeding.

A resolution that the discussion of the questions of the programme commence at the next meeting closed the proceedings.